Traveling with kids is an adventure that can be both challenging and rewarding. As a family that has traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe, my husband, Scott, and I have found that the benefits of traveling with our children far outweigh any difficulties we may encounter along the way. Clara, our five-year-old, has learned so much from our travels. She's developed an interest in history, science, and geography, and she loves learning about different cultures. We've taken her to visit historical sites, museums, and art galleries, and she's always eager to soak up new information.
She loves trying new foods, and we've had a blast introducing her to local specialties on our travels. Whether it's pizza in Naples or squid in Croatia, there's nothing quite like experiencing local cuisine firsthand. Of course, traveling with kids isn't always easy. There are bound to be moments of frustration, whether it's a toddler having a tantrum on a long flight or a tired and cranky child who just wants to go back to the hotel. However, we've found that with some planning and preparation, we can minimize these difficulties and enjoy our travels to the fullest.
Clara getting ready to eat her squid at a restaurant in Split, Croatia.
Russo eating haggis in Scotland.
Here are some of the benefits of traveling with kids, based on our personal experiences.
Introduction to Different Cultures
Traveling with kids provides an opportunity for them to experience different cultures firsthand. From trying new foods to experiencing different traditions and customs, traveling introduces children to a diverse world beyond their home environment. During our travels, my children have tasted new cuisines, learned words in new languages, and witnessed different art forms, all of which have enriched their understanding of the world and broadened their perspectives.
Builds Confidence and Independence
Traveling with kids can be a great way to build their confidence and independence. As they navigate new environments and situations, children learn to become more self-sufficient and adaptable. Trips to local playgrounds see them learning how to communicate through the language of play with local children when their spoken languages are different. From finding their way around a new city to ordering their own meals, traveling empowers children to take charge of their own experiences and builds their sense of autonomy.
Enhances Learning Opportunities
Traveling with kids presents unique learning opportunities that cannot be replicated in a classroom setting. From learning about history and geography to science and culture, travel provides hands-on experiences that make learning more tangible and exciting for children. For example, visiting historical landmarks such as the Colosseum in Rome or the Statue of Liberty in New York City can help children understand the significance of these sites and their place in history. Seeing Paleolithic cave art in Cantabria, Spain and hearing about early humans has sparked interest in archaeology and paleoanthropology for our daughter.
The whole family outside UNESCO World Heritage Site, Covalanas, in Cantabria, Spain.
Strengthens Family Bonds
Traveling with kids can bring families closer together by creating shared experiences and memories. As a family, we have bonded over exploring new places, trying new foods, and navigating unfamiliar territory. These experiences have strengthened our relationships and created a sense of camaraderie and shared adventure that we carry with us long after our travels have ended.
Encourages Flexibility and Adaptability
Traveling with kids requires a certain level of flexibility and adaptability, as plans can often change due to unforeseen circumstances. Whether it's a delayed flight or a sudden rainstorm, traveling teaches children to be resilient and to adapt to unexpected situations. This skill can serve them well throughout their lives, as they learn to cope with the ups and downs of daily life.
On the train from London to Edinburgh.
Fosters Creativity and Imagination
Traveling with kids can ignite their creativity and imagination by exposing them to new sights, sounds, and experiences. From the colors and textures of a new landscape to the sounds of a foreign language, travel provides endless inspiration for children to explore their creative potential. My daughter Clara loves to draw and paint, and her travels have inspired her to create art that reflects her experiences.
At the Peppa the Pig concert at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Promotes Empathy and Understanding
Traveling with kids can help foster empathy and understanding by introducing them to different people and cultures. As they interact with locals, learn about their customs and traditions, and are immersed in different cultures, languages, and ways of life, children develop a deeper appreciation for the diversity of the world around them. They begin to realize that there is no one "right" way to live and that the world is full of diversity and beauty. This understanding can help promote a more inclusive worldview as they become more open-minded and accepting of others. This immersion can also help them develop empathy and compassion for others, as they begin to see the world from different perspectives.
Creates Lasting Memories
Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of traveling with kids is the creation of lasting memories. From the excitement of planning a trip to the shared experiences of exploration and discovery, travel provides families with memories that can be cherished for a lifetime. My children often reminisce about our past trips, and these memories have become an important part of our family story.
At Krka National Park in Croatia.
Traveling with kids offers numerous benefits that can enrich both their lives and ours as parents. From introduction to different cultures, to the promotion of empathy and understanding, travel provides a unique learning experience that cannot be replicated in any other way. While traveling with children can be challenging at times - like the time our daughter stepped in poop she then tracked everywhere and on everything while we dined at a sidewalk bistro in Saint-Émilion - we remind ourselves that the challenges of the moment become the stories we tell later and the lessons we learn (like bring extra shoes and an empty plastic bag!). And we would do it again and again!